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October 31, 2013

Northern Essex stages 'Much Ado'

Theater, public speaking and literature students at Northern Essex Community College are making “much ado” about one of Shakespeare’s classics, performing the beloved play as part of the school’s Fall Creative Arts Series.

“Much Ado About Nothing” opens Friday, Nov. 1, and will also run next weekend. The Top Notch Players, NECC’s theater company, will perform the play at the Chester W. Hawrylciw Theater on the Haverhill campus.

The production will include nearly 30 students. For many of them, the play relates directly to what they’re studying in the classroom, whether in literature, acting or public speaking classes.

“This play allows them to see and understand how accessible Shakespeare really is,” says theater professor Jim Murphy. “It is a comedy the audience can identify with. They can see themselves in the characters.”

“Much Ado About Nothing” is considered by many to be one of William Shakespeare’s best comedies. It is thought to have been written at the tail end of the 16th century as Shakespeare was approaching the middle of his career. The play combines elements of robust hilarity with more serious meditations on honor, shame and court politics.

“It is a witty comedy that ends with multiple marriages and no deaths. It chronicles two pairs of lovers. Shakespeare develops their journey with a rich sense of humor and compassion,” Murphy said.

The set was designed by Susan Sanders, coordinator of theater and technical director of the Top Notch Players. She took her inspiration from the London theaters of Shakespeare’s day. The costumes are Elizabethan in spirit, if not exact replicas of clothes of the day. NECC student Thera May Driscoll created some of the costumes, with assistance from the Top Notch Players.

If You Go What: Northern Essex Community College's "Much Ado About Nothing." When: Friday, Nov. 1, Saturday, Nov. 2, Friday, Nov. 8 and Saturday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday, Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. and Sunday, Nov.10 at 3 p.m. Where: The Chester W. Hawrylciw Theater in the Spurk Building on the Haverhill campus, 100 Elliott St. How: Tickets are $10, $8 for students and seniors. Purchase at the door or through www.mvarts.info.

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